Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oh what a night...

These are the kind of nights when you're glad you're an overly-obsessed sports fan. Given the way the Cavs performed in the first three quarters against the Clippers last night, there was really no reason to keep watching. Down 14 at the half I said to myself that if they could get it under 10 heading into the 4th I'd keep watching. They entered the 4th down 17 and thankfully I went against my sleep-deprived judgment and kept on watching even as hope for a comeback dwindled. Then something happened... the team clamped down on defense and started making shots.

It really started around the 10:34 mark of the fourth quarter when Mo Williams made a seemingly harmless jump shot to cut the deficit to 17. Less than 90 seconds later the Clippers were forced to call a timeout as the Cavs had trimmed their lead down to 11. With still 9 minutes left I actually started to get that glimmer of hope that the Cavs might be able to pull it out. After some back-and-forth for the next 4 minutes, the real momentum shift happened - after starting the night 0-for-16 from behind the arc, the Cavs finally made a 3-pointer as Mo calmly drained one. That cut the lead down to 7 and it was the moment when the Clippers switched from trying to win and instead tried not to lose. Other big plays down the stretch included a couple of amazing drives to the basket by LeBron (can he ever get a call?), a big Joe Smith jumper, some clutch free-throw shooting, and two huge threes - one by Boobie to tie it, and the dagger by Mo with 6 seconds left to win it.

Mo celebrates after his game-winner on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning

When the dust settled the Cavs capped off one of the most furious 4th quarter rallies I have ever seen, winning it 87-83 (some GREAT highlights) in LA. It was a game they had no business winning, given how lethargic they looked for the first three quarters. This team has begun to take on a persona similar to the '95 Indians... simply dominant, and at times seemingly almost bored with their own success. They are never really out of a game and for that reason you can never really flip off your TV until the final horn sounds. I was amused by the stunned looks on the faces of the Clippers and how it contrasted with their crowd reaction. Those who were left in the Staples Center when it ended didn't seem surprised in the least. It was another great win in a season of great wins. This season has been special and with 19 games left I have a feeling there are still a lot more great moments to come. Oh, by the way, LeBron had his second consecutive triple-double, notching a 32/13/11 line on this night. Ridiculous. Go Cavs.

Viking Update: I have to mention what a great night it was for Cleveland's other basketball team last night. Cleveland State took advantage of the opportunity in front of them and finally beat a tough #17 Butler in their own gym after coming up just short twice this season. But they won when it really mattered, capturing the Horizon League championship and getting their first NCAA tournament bid in 23 years. I have great memories of the last time they made it into the big dance back in 1986 when I was all of 10 years old. Congratulations to Coach Waters and the team for putting CSU basketball back on the map. It should be fun following them in the tournament and is a proud moment for this city. Now can I get my Falcons from Bowling Green to get a MAC tourney win and an automatic bid???